The Wedge

20 Glenbervie Terrace, Thorndon, Wellington

  • The Wedge, Thorndon, Wellington.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Clare Garnham. Date: 26/03/2018.
  • The Wedge, Thorndon, Wellington.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Anika Klee. Date: 1/12/2009.
  • The Wedge, Thorndon, Wellington.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Rebecca O'Brien. Date: 1/08/2007.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 1438 Date Entered 28th June 1990

Locationopen/close

City/District Council

Wellington City

Region

Wellington Region

Legal description

Lot 2 DP 51292

Summaryopen/close

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. This report includes the text from the original Building Classification Committee report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

The architect James Bennie owned the site at 20 Glenbervie Terrace but designed the Wedge for Mr A Betts. It appears probable it was rented for most of its early life, Bennie owning it until 1943. It thereafter changed hands many times until bought by the present owners in 1970. The Cochrans have undertaken its restoration.

The unique character of the Ascot Street/Glenbervie Terrace area was recognised in the mid 1970s when the City Council rezoned it Residential E. This zoning controls the height, scale and character of any new building so as not to detract from the existing streetscape and is the first attempt in New Zealand to preserve an area of historical and architectural significance. The present owners took an active part in the campaign to save this area.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. This report includes the text from the original Building Classification Committee report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

The Wedge is one of the better known houses in the Thorndon 'E' zone. This conservation area was the subject of an early preservation battle and the present owners were prominent in that campaign.

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. This report includes the text from the original Building Classification Committee report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

ARCHITECTURAL QUALITY:

The Wedge is an important example of a regional building type peculiar to Wellington, that of the tall, narrow timber house built on a small section and designed in response to the steep topography and the lack of inner city land.

The Wedge is a prominent building of the nationally important, Wellington City Council designated Residential E zone. Tall, narrow and built to the Glenbervie Terrace boundary on three sides it is unusual in that it has three street facades all of which have glazing and decorative gables.

The Wedge is a clever architectural solution to a difficult problem, showing ingenuity and resourcefulness in suburban design.

Linksopen/close

Construction Professionalsopen/close

Bennie, James

Bennie was born in Ayrshire, Scotland, immigrated to New Zealand in 1880 and settled in Brunnertown near Greymouth. In the early 1890s he attended the Working Men's College in Melbourne, Australia, where he studied under artist and architect Thomas Searell. On completion of his studies he returned to Greymouth and set up in practice as an architect. In 1902 Bennie moved to Wellington and went into practice with E C Farr before establishing his own practice in 1905.

Some of Bennie's designs include the Albermarle Hotel, Wellington (1905), the Carnegie Library at Levin (1910), the Karori Methodist Church (1912), and the Oriental Bay Tea Kiosk (1912, demolished 1978). He designed a number of theatres including Kings (1910), Queens (1916), the Crown (1916) and Paramount (1917), all in Wellington and was also responsible for the design of many houses including the Wedge, Glenbervie Terrace (1906) and Bennie house, Salamanca road (1907) both in Wellington. He also had an interest in prefabricated house design.

Bennie was an inaugural member of the New Zealand Institute of Architects, founded in 1905, and was later elected a Fellow. He retired in 1935 and his son Malcolm took over the Wellington practice.

[Source: an advertisment in the Evening Post, Volume LXIV, Issue 58, 5 September 1902, Page 7 confirms that Bennie entered into partnership with E C Farr on 14 August 1902].

Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. This report includes the text from the original Building Classification Committee report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

ARCHITECTURAL DESCRIPTION:

This Edwardian house is wedge shaped. It is built to the boundary on the east, south and west sides and has been cleverly planned to fit the small, steep, irregular site. Originally two storeyed it has had a third storey incorporated in the basement. Architectural detailing is typical of the period with rusticated weatherboards, corner cover boards, double hung sash windows, decorated gables and porches.

MODIFICATIONS:

Minor modifications only up to 1969. Since then the present owners have upgraded the building and made the following structural changes:

Wall between original kitchen and dining room removed

Verandah added on north elevation

Basement dug out to form new landing, workshop and studio

Notable Features

The unique wedge shaped plan

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1906 -

Construction Details

Timber framing and sheathing; mass concrete retaining wall to west elevation and concrete piles elsewhere; corrugated iron roof.

Completion Date

19th December 1989

Information Sources

New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT)

New Zealand Historic Places Trust

Thorndon Walk. Wellington Regional Committee, 1978

Porter, 1979

Frances Porter (ed.), Historic Buildings of New Zealand: North Island, Auckland, 1979

Cochran, 1987

Chris Cochran, Proposal for Classification, Buildings Classification Committee Report. July 1987

Wellington City History Newspaper Articles

Wellington City History Newspaper Articles

Wellington City History Newspaper Articles. Vol 7, pp181-82; Vol 10, pp19-20

Other Information

A copy of this report is available from the NZHPT Central Region office

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.